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Local Hospitals See Increase In COVID-19 Patients

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - COVID-19 hospitalizations are up in the Tampa Bay Area compared to just a month ago, as Omicron becomes the dominant variant in the United States.

Dr. Jason Wilson works for Tampa General Hospital and says "If a lot of people are getting Omicron, even a small percent of a big number of people getting sick, that's still a big number coming to the hospital."

Hospitals all over the Tampa Bay Area are seeing a lot more people test positive for COVID-19…and as a result, more hospitalizations.

"You go back two and a half weeks ago, we were at about 3% positivity here at Tampa General and now that person who gets tested for disease is well over 30%," said Wilson.

Dr. Wilson, says there are a little more than 100 patients admitted with COVID-19.

"We're talking under 30 in ICU settings, and intubated is an even smaller number…so single digits," said Dr. Wilson.

Compared to Delta, though, doctors say the Omicron variant isn't as severe.

Dr. Tim Regan, Chief Medial Officer at Lakeland Regional Health says "There is an explosion of patients within the emergency department but it's not translating into as many admissions with the delta variant."

"We are seeing lots of patients, high volume, but not as many patients having really significant lung issues," said Dr. Wilson.

At Lakeland Regional Health in Polk County, Dr Regan, says there's about 156 people hospitalized for COVID-19 and three are on a ventilator. According to the Florida Department of Health, both Hillsborough and Polk County are seeing a 29% positivity rate.

"We are struggling with staff being ill and having to manage staff shortages. This time of year we are typically busy and we have snow birds in town and hospitals sees large rise in their volumes," said Dr. Regan.

He says the hospital is filling in the staffing gaps, but both Dr. Wilson and Dr. Regan say they hope COVID-19 hospitalizations remain low through out 2022.

"It's exhausting to be honest with you but I don't think doctors are any different than other care teams in the pandemic and people in general," said Dr. Regan.

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